As it turns out, the registrar is a reseller of Directi. With me it was a password issue. However the reseller was and still is a total non-responder. Initially I got mixed information from Directi that they were in fact related.
I made one final plea, and Directi customer service was able to change the password for me and I can access the control panel. The domain is now expired but I can still manage it -- and am in the process of transferring it.
"Just when I thought that I was out, they pull me back in!"